I have seen a bunch of threads recently asking about how to get into park/ tips for beginners. Here is my opinion of the best route to success in the park.
It is super important to stretch before attempting anything in the park. Stretch all of your muscles, starting with your legs. You can do lunges, squats and hip rollers among other leg stretches. Try to incorporate as many kinetic stretches as you can rather than static stretches. Stretch everything right up to your lower back, upper back, arms, neck and core.
It is best to learn all of your tricks outside the park and get really comfortable with the progressions and the mechanics before taking it into the park. Think of the park as a performing ground to perform the tricks that you have worked on outside the park. I suggest using a gentle green/blue run that is well groomed and preferably one that has some natural rolls and berms.
Trick #1 - Pop
The first thing to learn that relates to park is a pop. This is the key to all tricks and a solid strong powerful pop is essential.
Start on a flat area of ground while stationary and practice popping. You should be centered on your skis. This means that you are stacked. Your shoulders are over your knees and your knees are over your toes. This is achieved by bending all the joints in your legs evenly. Ankles, knees and hips. You should have even pressure across the bottom of your feet. Crouch in this position and then extend all you joints as explosively as possible. Start at the ankle and work up, this is the most effective way to use the power stored in your legs and skis. Make sure your ski lifts off the ground level.
Common Mistake - Sucking your legs up rather than pushing down off the snow.
Practice this whilst sliding slowly and then progress onto rollers or small moguls. Then progress it to jumps. It can seem scary as it feels as though you are making the jump bigger but the best way to think of it is that if you pop, you are in control of your air and if you don't then the jump is.
Trick #2 - Basic Air Manœuvres
Next you should learn the following basic manouvers to practice moving your body while in the air. Remember that it always goes; pop, manouver, land. You must pop first:
Shifty- twist your legs one way and your upper body the opposite way then release.
Spread eagle- basically a star jump.
Iron Cross- point your toes together to cross your skis then release.
Common Mistake - focusing too much on the manoeuvre and forgetting to pop first.
Trick #3 - Grabs
Start to look at basic grabs: safety, mute, tail, japan, critical. Try the grabs while standing stationary on the snow or by laying on your back. Try to 'meet in the middle' you should lift your ski/foot and bend down at your hips an even amount to compensate. Focus on looking up and feeling for the grab rather than looking down and trying to see it. This will help with balance when you are in the air.
Try these grabs while sliding on a flat area of snow without a pop. Then once you are really comfortable with the grabs and staying balanced you can try them on a small jump. Don't worry about grabbing the ski, focus more on the movement, staying balanced and just touching your ski. Remember: pop, manouver, landing, in that order.
Common Mistake - Looking down at your feet will put you out of balance and can lead to over bending your hips.
Trick #4 - Switch Skiing
Learn to ski switch. It is a huge misconception that in order to ski switch you should twist your upper body an splay your skis. Instead you should be trying to ski the same way you regularly. By turning your feet. Make sure you are stacked on your skis and looking over your shoulder so you can see where you are going. Turn by turning your legs under your body. A good way is to imagine that there is a piece of string attached to the tip of your ski, then try pulling that string in the direction you want to turn with your outside hand. Your skis will splay but as a result of turning not an action. Try to feel pressure on your heels to help ensure you are stacked and balanced.
Common Mistake - Leaning too far forward on the front of the boot which will make it very hard to turn your skis and cause them to get caught in the snow.
Next try popping while switch. The same as above applies. This is a great way to see if you really are centered or not.
Trick #5 - 180
The first air to learn is a 180. This can be done by either turning your legs under your body of by setting with your shoulders. Try both. Also try doing them in both directions. We all find it easier one way but this is purely psychological and can be overcome. Good technique is good technique and will work either way, left or right. Remember: pop, manouver, land.
When using your legs, after you pop simply turn your legs underneath you. Again try this somewhere flat first.
When setting with your upper body you are leading with your shoulders and hips. Make sure you look up all the time to ensure that you stay on axis. Look over your shoulder not down at the ground. Make sure that your ski comes off the snow evenly.
Common Mistake - Forgetting to pop first. Getting stuck at 90 when setting with your upper body because you close your rotation. Keep your hands/arms leading the rotation.
Next try switch 180s both ways. The exact same tactics explained above apply. Remember to feel heel pressure.
Trick #6 - 360
360s are a little more scary and should be set using your upper body. Confidence is key and if you visualize yourself landing it you most likely will. Don't doubt yourself.
Start with some surface 360s on the snow. Practice a dummy pop followed by twisting your shoulders and hips in the direction you want to spin. Keep your skis as flat as possible to help you slide on the snow. Try these both ways. Timing is really important. Your shoulders should be aligned with your skis at the time of the pop. Practice this too. Once you have surface 360s nailed, try adding a real pop, jumping to about 90 degrees and then scrubbing the next 270. Again make sure that you have a solid strong pop. Gradually work you way up to a 180 scrubbed into a 360. Make sure that there is no pause as you land from the pop. This is only achieved if you maintain the separation between upper and lower body. Keep your shoulders and hips twisting until you reach 360. This can all be done somewhere flat without a jump. If you can try popping 270 and scrubbing the last 90. With practice it is easy enough to do a 360 on a flat piece of ground without a jump.
When you do take them to small jumps, just ensure you treat it the same way and you will make it round. Keep your head out and eyes up for balance. Don't look down at your feet, this will make you land backseat and you will get shinbang. Try to set your spin from a wide stance off of your inside edges, this will help you push off the snow.
Common Mistakes - Hucking it too hard without a solid pop first. Looking down at your feet/landing. Make sure you have a solid pop and look up over your shoulder.
Trick #7 - 50/50
Start with a nice short, flat, wide, box.
Think about looking at the next stage all the time. I.e. First you are looking at where you are going to land on the box, then you are looking at the end of the box, then you are looking at the landing. Try to use a ride on box if you can as oppose to a street setup. Keep your legs bent for balance.
Common Mistake - Trying to snowplow on the box. It will not work and you will fall on your backside.
Trick #8 - Ski Slide
Next try popping and jumping 90 and landing in a slide. Do this on any moderate slope that is well groomed. This will give you a good idea of what sliding a box or rail sideways will feel like. Make sure you stay stacked, that you have the majority of your weight on your front foot and that you use as little edge as possible. Keep your skis flat to the snow. This is achieved by pushing your hips sideways down the hill. Think about keeping your downhill hip over your downhill foot.
When you feel confident take this to the same beginner box.
Common Mistakes - Letting instinct take over and trying to do a hockey stop or leaning back (uphill) while on the box. Let your skis slide and stay on your front foot.
Trick #9 - Ski Slide to Switch/Regular
In order to come off a box, you need to be aware of your body position on the box. If your downhill shoulder is slightly behind your front foot you will come off forward. This can be achieved by using the leg twist method when mounting the box. If your shoulder is slightly infront if your downhill foot whilst sliding, you will come off switch. This can be achieve by setting your spin on with your upper body. Practice coming off both regular and switch on demand.
Common Mistake - Bringing your hands in too close to your body which can lock your rotation and stop you from spinning off a box. Not pooping off the end of the box.
Trick #10 - Rails
From here you should make sure you are completely comfortable before progressing to skinner boxes and rails.
The theory is the same as for boxes but rails require more balance and generally more speed. Make sure that you have a solid pop, don't look down, look at the end of the rail, and stay on your front foot.
Common Mistake - Stepping onto a rail instead of committing to a pop which can put your weight on your back foot causing you to slip out.
I hope this can help all those who are just getting into park. I am stoked to see so many people getting into freestyle and enjoying it!
If you like this and want me to explain the next steps/ more tricks and progressions let me know.
**This thread was edited on Dec 22nd 2017 at 2:31:17am
**This thread was edited on Jan 4th 2018 at 11:18:01am